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Traffic congestion: which 3 GCC cities buck global trend?

Traffic congestion is terrible both for our wallets and health, but for many it is also the indicator of a booming economy. Whether you are passing through King Abdul Aziz Road (Riyadh) to your office during peak morning hours (8.30am to 10am) or heading into Dubai from Sharjah, you will have experienced snarling congestion.

However, at a time when the West is struggling to minimize road congestion, which is guzzling millions of dollars every year, the GCC region has, conversely, managed to curtail this problem.


The GCC’s main commercial hubs: Riyadh, Jeddah and Dubai have managed to improve their rankings on the INRIX 2016 Global traffic Scorecard, when compared to 2015. The scorecard ranks the world’s most congested city at no.1; the least at no. 100.

According to the scorecard, Riyadh has improved by nearly 13 positions. In 2016 it was ranked 50 in the Global Traffic Scorecard, while in 2015 it was positioned 37. Jeddah has improved 14 positions, ranked 84 (70 in 2015). Dubai, home of many top MNCs, seeing the movement of hundreds of thousands of commuters everyday, improved by nearly 13 positions, ranked 81 (68 in 2015).

On the other hand, US’ main cities have seen deterioration in their ranking. Los Angeles topped the scorecard in 2016 while it was at number two spot in 2015. New York was placed third, while it was at seventh spot in 2015. However, capital Washington DC reached 13th place from the 26th spot.

“Traffic is a major problem in Dubai especially during mornings and evenings, but it is good we are gradually improving when it comes to international standards,” says Sara Haydens, who drives from Al Barsha I to Dubai Media City every morning for work.

Notably, the 2016 INRIX Traffic Scorecard ranks 205 major cities of the world by the peak hours spent in congestion.

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Huge financial lose:

Although roads are considered the crucial arteries to mobilize people and goods across the country, their congestion is also leading to massive financial losses in the West.

The traffic scorecard says that traffic congestion costs the US alone $300 billion per year in gas and time, while congestion costs UK motorists over £30 billion.

Hours spent in congestion

Motorists in Saudi Arabia spent approximately 39 hours in congestion (in 2016), which calculated to 16 percent of driving time stuck in traffic. According to the scorecard, this is the average number of hours a driver would spend in congestion during peak hours based upon 240 commuting days.

An average motorist in Jeddah, meanwhile, spent 28.8 hours in congestion that is 12 percent of driving time in congestion. In Dubai, drivers spent 28 hours in congestion, 11 percent driving time.

Watch: 5 ways UAE transportation will change by 2020

Extra travel time:

GCC cities have also performed well on TomTom Traffic Index, which measures congestion globally. As per this index, the congestion level in Dubai is 29 percent, while it is 28 percent and 27 percent in Kuwait and Riyadh respectively. In this index, Mexico City topped the list with 66% congestion level.

TomTom Traffic Index calculates congestion level on the basis of how much extra travel time is required for the same distance in the same conditions, during busy and non-busy time-slots.

According to the INRIX 2016 Global traffic Scorecard, its least congested city in the world, from those surveyed, is New Orleans, the US.